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Chapter 24 : Forgotten Comfort
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Chapter Twenty-Four: Forgotten Comfort
Their roguish laughter had filtered all the way up to the bedroom where she was sitting with Draco and she couldn’t withhold the urge to go to the window and check on them. She could tell by the way the group of men were leaning on each other that they were drunk. She bit her lip to hide her smile, wondering how on earth Viktor Krum and Oliver Wood had managed to get entangled in their escapade. She bit her lip, wondering exactly what Viktor and Sirius could have possible found in common other than her. As if they felt her presence, the men glanced up at her simultaneously, a few waving wildly for her to come down and join them. She smiled and offered them a tiny wave of regret behind the curtain, shielding her movements from Draco’s view. In response, Sirius and Viktor dropped their pants and stuck their bare butts her direction. Trying desperately to contain her giggles, she tugged the curtain shut before Draco could come to see what she was looking at.
“Do you think,” Draco’s asked from the bed, “we should find a new place to live?”
Hermione turned from the window to eye him more closely. “Why? Juliette loves it here. It’s the only home she’s even known.”
“Come here,” Draco tugged on her arm, pulling her to sit beside him on the bed. “I’ve asked you to marry me, Hermione. I want us all to start a new life together. We don’t seem to be able to do that while you are still holding on to the past and everything Grimmauld reminds you of.”
She opened her mouth to object and then thought better of it. It wasn’t, perhaps, wise to tell him she felt happier at Grimmauld than she had anywhere else in her life. She touched his arm gingerly. “The past happened, we can’t change that. But I am moving on. I’m trying to deal with things and work through them if you’d just give me a chance.”
“Work through them?” he questioned. “Hermione, mere mention of Ron or Harry tears you up inside. When you look at me, I see it. I remind you of them every time you look at me. You have to stop blaming me. We were young and did stupid things, all of us.”
“Stupid? Bonding Ginny-"
“Don’t,” Draco cupped her face in his hands, “please don’t. We can’t keep reliving every little thing we did wrong, Hermione.” He hesitated, wondering what perhaps might forge the connection with her he was hoping for. He dropped his hands away from her but continued to gaze at her intently.
“Sirius would tell you the same thing, wouldn’t he? He made huge mistakes and you’ve forgiven him. You allow him home down the hall from your only daughter. Just once, can’t you give me the same chance you allow everyone else?”
Hermione nodded meekly, her guilt overwhelming. She knew he was right. Every time she looked at him she was flooded with memories of her youth. All the things she’d done right easily overshadowed by the one thing she did wrong. How was it that in Sirius’ presence none of those things seemed to matter? That nothing she did-whether good or bad- seemed to make any difference to him?
She tried to imagine what conclusions Sirius might lead her to right now. He would tell her she was being silly; tell her that nothing in the past mattered; convince her that this moment in time was the only thing that should ever make a difference in the decisions she made. He’d tell her to stop being so damn analytical and get her clothes off.
“You’re right,” she whispered. “I have given him a chance. But, Draco, you have to understand that he accepts me. You’ve never even attempted to do that. You still have that mentality that you are better than me, that you will always know what’s best not only for me but for Juliette as well.”
Draco leaned forward, his voice low. “I have never said I was better than you.”
His words cut through and she couldn’t help but lean into him, allowing his lips to press softly against her own. It had been ages since she’d been this close to him; since she’d felt the warmth and comfort that was so common and familiar to her. For so many years he had represented safety and security for her – the only man willing to stand beside her when she lost the two loves of her life.
“Hermione,” his soft voice filtered through her mind, his fingers trailing gently along her arm. He leaned forward kissing her hesitantly for fear of her running away again. “You remember me, don’t you?” he asked softly, his voice soothing and calm. Her shiver bothered him but she nodded in response, her eyes transfixed on some object far behind him. He tilted her face to his, “Tell me you remember.”
Her voice was a whisper. “Of course I remember.”
“Then stay with me.”
She thought of all the many reasons she didn’t want to stay – the confusion to herself; fear of hurting Sirius; fear Draco would expect her to marry him immediately; Juliette being down the hall. She squeezed her eyes shut in a desperate, final attempt to gain some control over her emotions but failed. She wanted to believe Draco. More than anything, she wanted to believe that he was the man she had always wanted him to be – loving, tender, caring only for her well-being. She looked up into his eyes saw an earnest man looking back, trying to fix things that he had destroyed through his reckless past. For a brief moment, she wanted to bleed him of his arrogance and scream at him until he could see what he had done to her over the years but, instead she stemmed her violence and and silenced the scream that had risen in her throat.
She let her hand slide tentatively into his hands, his perfectly manicured fingers wrapping tightly around hers for fear of her changing her mind. He glanced at her as if for confirmation and when she gave the briefest nod, he lifted the covers for her to join him. She slid in, her face resting warm against his overstuff down pillow.
‘It’s only one night,” she murmured.
Although he nodded, the look in his eyes told her something completely different. He already was seeing this as more than she did. She fought back tears from her past and the memories she’d tried to bury so long as his lips traced down her neck.
Flashes of Ron and Harry flew threw her mind and seconds too late she realized – this was a mistake.
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